Sample Job Descriptions for Board Officers

Board Café

Sample Job Descriptions for Board Officers


The Electronic Newsletter Exclusively for Members of Nonprofit Boards of Directors

A menu of ideas, information, opinion, news, and resources to help board members give and get the most out of board service. Thank you to the James Irvine Foundation and others for making the Board Café free to its 4,000 and growing subscribers.
Executive Chef / Editor: Jan Masaoka. November 10, 1998. Vol 2, No. 11

One of the most frequent requests to the Board Café is for "job descriptions" for officers of the nonprofit board. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving for our board leaders, we're including some samples in this month's "Main Course at the Board Café." As a board member myself, I am grateful for the dedication and vision of leaders on boards, as well as for the staff who welcome our oversight as well as our support. And, as an executive director myself, I am grateful for the leadership and generous spirit of our own board members . . . even when I don't agree with them!

Here's wishing a warm Thanksgiving to us all! - Jan Masaoka


The NEXT-best way to find a volunteer CPA is to get the "National Directory of Volunteer Accounting Programs" from Accountants for the Public Interest. This directory lists 23 groups that help connect nonprofits and small businesses with volunteer CPAs in their areas. Find it on their website: <> (click on "An offer you won't want to refuse") or order it for $7.50 from API at 1420 North Charles Street, Room 155, Baltimore, MD 21201 (410-837-6533). The BEST way? Use the networks and rolodexes of your fellow board members to find a willing volunteer.


Well, there are always certificates and clocks and paperweights. One unusually nice idea is to write a resolution that recalls the particular acts, statements, and personality of the outgoing board member, have the board pass the resolution, and then frame it (easy to do nicely with today's software). Another idea: One board member volunteers to host (at his or her own cost) a dinner after the board meeting in honor of the outgoing board member. Please send in your best experiences and ideas for a future issue of the Board Café!


When you're doing voice votes ("Everyone in favor?"), don't forget to call for those opposed and for those abstaining. Even if it sounds as if everyone was in favor, it's important to let those who wish to record their opposition or their abstention know they can without having to insist on it. By acknowledging that there may be board members opposed or abstaining, it also sends a message to everyone that differences of opinion are accepted and even valued.


Have you been thinking about joining a new and different board, say the board of a disabilities organization, or a Hispanic environmental justice group, or a community theater, but you don't know anybody on one? OR, are you on a board that's looking for new members, but you're having a hard time reaching beyond the circle of friends of your current board members? Take a look at <>, the website of the Volunteer Consulting Group, and click on "National Board Net" for a list of local groups around the country that match up people interested in serving on boards with people recruiting fellow board members.

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This Issue's "Main Course at the Board Café:"

Sample Job Descriptions for Board Officers

PRESIDENT / CHAIR / CHIEF VOLUNTARY OFFICER (CVO) (Read about their abilty to impact an organization here.)

  • General: Ensures the effective action of the board in governing and supporting the organization, and oversees board affairs. Acts as the representative of the board as a whole, rather than as an individual supervisor to staff.
  • Community: Speaks to the media and the community on behalf of the organization (as does the executive director); represents the agency in the community.
  • Meetings: Develops agendas for meetings in concert with the executive director. Presides at board meetings.
  • Committees: Recommends to the board which committees are to be established. Seeks volunteers for committees and coordinates individual board member assignments. Makes sure each committee has a chairperson, and stays in touch with chairpersons to be sure that their work is carried out; identifies committee recommendations that should be presented to the full board. Determines whether executive committee meetings are necessary and convenes the committee accordingly.
  • Executive Director: Establishes search and selection committee (usually acts as chair) for hiring an executive director. Convenes board discussions on evaluating the executive director and negotiating compensation and benefits package; conveys information to the executive director.
  • Board Affairs: Ensures that board matters are handled properly, including preparation of pre-meeting materials, committee functioning, and recruitment and orientation of new board members.


  • General: Acts as the president/chair in his or her absence; assists the president/chair on the above or other specified duties.
  • Special Responsibilities: Frequently assigned to a special area of responsibility, such as membership, media, annual dinner, facility, or personnel.
  • Some organizations choose to make the vice president, explicitly or implicitly, the president-elect.


  • General: Manages the board's review of, and action related to, the board's financial responsibilities. May work directly with the bookkeeper or other staff in developing and implementing financial procedures and systems.
  • Reports: Ensures that appropriate financial reports are made available to the board. Regularly reports to board on key financial events, trends, concerns, and assessment of fiscal health.
  • Finance Committee: Chairs the Finance Committee and prepares agendas for meetings, including a year-long calendar of issues. In larger organizations, a separate Audit Committee may be chaired by a different person.
  • Auditor: Recommends to the board whether the organization should have an audit. If so, selects and meets annually with the auditor in conjunction with the Finance and/or Audit Committees.
  • Cash Management and Investments: Ensures, through the Finance Committee, sound management and maximization of cash and investments.


You are reading the BOARD CAFÉ, published by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, in partnership with the Volunteer Consulting Group (of New York). The BOARD CAFÉ is one component of Board Match Plus+, CompassPoint's collaborative venture with the Volunteer Center of San Francisco to help individuals serving on nonprofit boards.

Board Match Plus+/CompassPoint: 706 Mission Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103; (phone) 415-541-9000; (fax) 415-541-7708; (e-mail)

Volunteer Consulting Group: 9 East 41st St., 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017; (phone) 212-687-8530; (e-mail)


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